It’s hard to believe that a quarter of a year has passed since the 2023 season of the Porsche TAG Heuer Esports Supercup kicked off at the Hockenheimring on February 4th. Since then, eighteen races across nine events have taken place on various circuits around the world. Whether it was the legendary Nürburgring Nordschleife, the fan-favorite Spa-Francorchamps or even new additions like the Long Beach Street Circuit, each venue threw up its own unique set of challenges which the drivers had to tackle. With the ever-high level of competition that’s been the hallmark of the virtual one-make cup ever since its inception back in 2019, that sort of diverse schedule has resulted in a record-equaling ten different race winners so far, and there’s still two opportunities for that number to be surpassed!
With such a large pool of race winners, it’s only natural that the top spot in the standings is just as hotly contested. In fact, just like for last year’s championship showdown, four drivers are still mathematically eligible to win the title ahead of the tenth and final round of the season at the Autodromo Nazionale Monza, two of them not for the first time.
The Outside Bet: Alejandro Sánchez
The first of these contenders, albeit with by far the largest points deficit to the championship lead, is Alejandro Sánchez (E/Stormforce Racing ART). The Spaniard has been part of PESC since the very beginning, even being talked about as a potential championship candidate back in 2020, though ultimately that didn’t come to fruition.
While Sánchez has stood on the top step of the podium on two occasions this year, most recently in the sprint race at the Nürburgring Nordschleife, a number of main race finishes outside the top twenty as well as a tendency to get himself involved in incidents with others have hampered his chances quite a bit. With eighty-five points still up for grabs, he’s of course still able to overcome his seventy-three point deficit, but a lot of things will have to go his way for that to happen, and that’s not taking into account what his opponents may get up to.
The Main Pursuers: Zac Campbell and Sebastian Job
Two drivers who definitely cannot be overlooked in the title race are Zac Campbell (USA/VRS Coanda) and 2020 series champion Sebastian Job (GB/Oracle Redbull Racing Esports), who are thirty-seven and forty-one points behind the leader respectively.
Campbell, who finds himself in championship contention for the second year in a row, hasn’t only scored the most race victories this season so far at three, he also hasn’t finished outside the top ten in the past five events. That in combination with his great start to the season, he won the main race at the opening round at Hockenheim, should have really put him atop the leaderboard, but his run of terrible luck at Magny-Cours, Long Beach and the Circuit of the Americas have put a significant dent into his points tally.
Keeping himself out of trouble will also be Sebastian Job’s main goal in Italy. While it’s anything but unusual for him to go to the last round of the season within reach of the championship crown, having done so every season other than in 2021, the run to that position this year hasn’t been all that smooth. The 23 year-old has managed to add to his record win tally this year, scoring his 25th PESC race victory last round in the sprint race at Le Mans, but that was only the second time he won this season.
There were also a number of instances where he found himself on the wrong end of the stick in the battles for position, such as him going off the road when fighting Jordan Caruso for the main race win at Spa-Francorchamps. It doesn’t mean that Job won’t win the PESC title again, but it’d be hard to claim that he’s in as strong a position as Zac Campbell.
The Title Favorite: Jordan Caruso
The man holding all the cards going to Monza has to be Jordan Caruso. The Australian, who’s only in his second season, has to be one of the surprises of the season, being by far the driver with the most consistent finishes in the top positions. It took until the fifth round of the season at the Red Bull Ring for him to finish lower than sixth, when he was collected by a spinning car in the main race, ironically right after he had taken his first series victory in the preceding sprint.
He didn’t let that set himself back though and kept up his performance throughout the season, scoring another race win along the way and making the best of his bad days such as when he had a challenging qualifying session at the Nürburgring Nordschleife. If it wasn’t for some tough luck at Le Mans, when Caruso was crashed out of the race by another driver, he could be sitting in the championship lead with a near insurmountable advantage already. Even with that, the others will have to not only beat Caruso, he’ll likely have to be involved in strife again for them to have a proper chance to overhaul his lead, and if the past few events are anything to go by, he’ll keep playing it smart.
The Finale at Monza on June 3rd
At the end of the day, looking at trends and using one’s experience to predict what may happen is one thing, but in the end things usually turn out different. With a championship showdown at a circuit that produces races as chaotic as those often seen at Monza, that’s almost guaranteed. The last event at the Circuit de la Sarthe was likely already a preview of what’s to be expected, with many long straights and numerous slipstream battles and changes of position.
The main difference at the Italian circuit: There’s even more long straights followed by hard braking zones, often leading into tight chicanes, most of which are very difficult to navigate side-by-side. What is for sure is that all the right ingredients are there for a cracking finale on June 3rd. Make sure you don’t miss a second when the livestream kicks off at 21:00 UTC on the Porsche Twitch channel!